Pastrana Wants to Pay

Travis Pastrana may be a household name to many race fans, but he is clearly also a humble, easygoing guy.    

While giving media rides Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway to promote Saturday’s Rallycross race, Pastrana made contact with the chain-link barrier fence twice, once completely knocking it down. He fretted about the damage and immediately sought out track president Marcus Smith, offering to pay for repairs.

“He told me not to worry about it,” Pastrana said, laughing. “But I felt really bad, because I thought they were going to have to reconfigure the course and take a bunch of time out.”

They didn’t, and Pastrana’s scrapes with the wall had the reporters on hand tweeting their excitement and anxiety throughout the afternoon.

Pastrana, a 10-time X Games Gold medalist and four-time Rally America champion, joked that he used the event as a test session, giving media members an unwitting firsthand glance at the rigors a driver will put his car through to find the right line and balance in the Rallycross series.  

Pastrana will be running both the HISTORY 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and the Global Rallycross race Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, pulling unique double duty in two completely different cars. The Rallycross race cars are 600-horsepower, all-wheel-drive production cars that are completely street legal. The course will consist of hairpin turns, narrow chicanes and water features, and the event promises to be all about aggression, according to Pastrana.

He said the hardest part of the weekend would be hopping out of his Rallycross car Friday night after seeding, then hopping into this Nationwide car first thing Saturday morning to qualify.

“That’s kind of nerve-wracking, knowing I have to jump in and peel off my fastest lap of the weekend right off the bat,” Pastrana said. “But once we get through qualifying, we should be fine.”

Pastrana has three NASCAR Nationwide Series races under his belt, but Saturday’s race will be his first in Charlotte and his first on an intermediate track. He said his goals at this point are modest, hoping not to do “anything too dumb,” gain experience and earn respect.

“These are going to be the fastest cars I’ve raced,” Pastrana said. “This track seems – on TV, at least – like it has a lot of lines and you can run fairly quickly. For me, though, the biggest focus is I just want to learn how to drive these cars competitively … I’m going to drive as hard as I can. Like every one of these guys out there, I wanna win. But is that realistic? No.”

KAHNE TO RAMP UP DRAMA AT WoO RACE – As if the action-packed laps of grizzled drivers slipping and sliding on the high banks of The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway weren’t enough, NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne has added his name to the entry list for Friday’s Circle K NOS Energy Outlaw Showdown on May 25.

A former USAC Midget champion, Kahne has stayed true to his short-track roots, forming a World of Outlaws team with full-time drivers Joey Saldana and Cody Darrah and part-time driver Brad Sweet. All three will compete in Friday’s race, along with Kahne and a full slate of other WoO standouts, including Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser.

“I thought, ‘Man, that’s close to home,’” Kahne said. “And at Charlotte, The Dirt Track can be really good. When it’s right, it’s really fun to race on.”

Reserved seats to the Circle K NOS Energy Outlaw Showdown are $25 for adults and $10 for children 13 and under. For just $15, fans 14 and older can upgrade their ticket to include a pit pass. Spectator gates open at 4 p.m.

An autograph session with the drivers of the World of Outlaws including Darrah and Saldana will take place from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. Friday on the main concourse. The first 1,000 fans to present a NOS Energy Drink from Circle K at the gate for the autograph party will receive a free limited-edition commemorative poster.

CLASSIC KENSETH – With no NASCAR official at the podium when he entered the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center Thursday, Matt Kenseth took control of the situation and introduced himself.

“Joining us in the media center right now is Matt Kenseth,” he deadpanned. “He comes in second in points. Don’t know where he finished last year. Matt, why don’t you talk about it.”

Kenseth scooted from behind the podium microphone to his usual seat at the table and started answering his own question, to the guffaws of a roomful of reporters.